For anyone who’s ever shopped online, it’s likely you’ve started, but not completed, a purchase at least once. It happens pretty frequently it seems. But just how frequently shoppers do that might actually come as quite a shock. According to some sources, almost 70% of online shoppers abandon their shopping cart before completing a purchase, resulting in nearly $4 trillion--with a “T”--worth of merchandise left waiting in virtual carts to be purchased.
E-commerce is big business, but it could be even bigger if online merchants could manage to recapture some of the lost revenue opportunities. There any number of reasons for shoppers abandoning their carts, such as expensive shipping or simply just a change of heart about the purchase.
But perhaps the biggest reasons for poor sales rates are poor site searchability and complex checkout processes. After all, it’s awfully difficult to purchase an item if you can’t easily find it. And if the process for buying it–whether it’s unclear or just unwieldy–well, we can’t blame you for wanting to put the purchase off until later, which often means never.
What’s an e-tailer to do when there are hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of dollars potentially at stake? Here are three under-the-radar strategies for e-commerce that can deliver over-the-top results.
1. Make products easier to find with natural language search
Customers aren’t likely to complete a purchase if they can’t find the information or products they’re seeking. Most shopping sites still rely on antiquated keyword search technologies that scour the website based on what a visitor types.
For example, a search for a “10-gallon bucket” using conventional text-based search will return results matching each of the three individual keywords, sending visitors on a wild goose chase through multiple pages of results trying to find what they want; this process frequently drives them to a different site in search of a better experience. And if there are any typos in the initial search–like typing “backet” when you really want to find a “bucket”–the likelihood of receiving accurate, relevant results approaches nil.
Natural language processing (NLP) searches–searching by what a user actually means, rather than what he or she types–bring context to complex queries. NLP understands the intent behind search phrases, even when they include typos and misspellings, to show customers the products they’re searching for instead of an error message.
2. Use chatbots to complete cart checkouts
One of the more frustrating parts of buying online is the lack of guidance or support available throughout the purchase process. Some companies employ live chat agents at various stages of the process, but the cost of staffing often cuts significantly into margins, making it a less-than-desirable (and less profitable) option.
Intelligent chatbots (virtual agents, if you prefer) enable greater customer self-service by offering most of the help of a live agent, with none of the overhead. Chatbots mobilize your entire knowledge base, supporting customers with powerful NLP search capabilities to answer the conversion-killing questions or concerns that often pop up at the last moment before purchase.
More importantly, intelligent chatbots can be transactional, providing either step-by-step guidance for completing a purchase or even just handling the purchase directly, alleviating the visitor of any lingering questions or concerns that might lead to an incomplete purchase.
3. Use analytics to improve search and chatbot conversations
Unlike a certain rotisserie oven made famous in late-night infomercials, your e-commerce site isn’t made to “just set it and forget it!” Online stores require constant attention and continuous updates to ensure a positive shopping experience that results in more sales.
Minimizing shopping cart abandonments to maximize sales requires going beyond conventional metrics. Measuring traffic, revenues, and lost sales are helpful in establishing a baseline of your performance, but don’t do much to help you understand why your site is performing as it is.
Employing a self-service analytics platform helps uncover disparities and discrepancies in the information you have available and what your customers are actually searching. This “gap analysis” lets you identify search trends, determine what new unanswered questions need to be created in your knowledge base to track progress and performance, and optimize both your content and customer journey to simplify the entire purchase process from search to cart.
A competitive advantage
Every shopping cart abandonment is an opportunity–either for your company to recapture the sale or for a competitor to acquire a new customer. If your e-commerce site is losing sales because it’s still relying on text-based search, limited purchase support, and conventional analytics, contact us today for a free demo of our patented self-service and e-commerce solutions and discover how you can get a leg up on your competition.
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